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The Miseryside derby

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Robbo Robson | 13:14 UK time, Thursday, 26 November 2009

Liverpool. Great city, terrible week. It's an interesting time for the Merseyside derby.

There was no great escape for the Reds as they stumbled past the might of Debrecen on Tuesday night and then stood in forlorn hope of a late late Lyon goal that might save their bacon. Unfortunately Insua and Skrtel weren't in the Fiorentina line-up so the goal never came.

Hansen and Lawro would've been growling about how that's not 'the Liverpool way', but at the moment it's the only way.

Benitez trotted out a few careworn clichés on the merits of staying positive. But that won't do. The Europa League means diddly to a club of their aspirations. It's like getting up on Easter Sunday in anticipation of a glut of Easter goodies and finding the only thing on offer is a past-its-sell-by-date Crème Egg.
Rafa BenitezBenitez hasn't had much to smile about
Besides they'll have to get past Fulham to do it and you can't see that happening.
Purslow is right behind Rafa, and given that the bloke's just signed a five-year contract, you wouldn't expect him to say owt else.

The thing is, Benitez has had this coming. He's got out of jail so many times in Europe. His two great successes with the club were the work of fiction writers with a highly-developed imagination. 3-0 down to Milan, 3-2 down to West Ham, and the No.8 pulls on Stevie's Magic Boots and saves the day. (And even more miraculous, Smicer scores).

I'm not saying these triumphs weren't damn exciting - hell that night in Istanbul was probably the most exhilarating club final ever. In fact, if you want to know why Liverpool fans still cling to the Red Rafalution just watch the highlights of that match again.

Whatever else the Spaniard does he has given the Koppites an unsurpassable night of bliss. I mean I used to have a recurring dream that I was under a duvet with the Three Degrees but that just pales into insignificance in comparison.

The thing is, what does Rafa do now? Torres's hamstring nags away like a 70s sitcom wife and Gerrard is reportedly playing with pain-killing injections (perhaps they could hand out some of them to the fans 'n' all). And now Ryan Babel's been chipping away to the press. I'd ground the adolescent fool.

One good strike in 105 appearances and he's bleating to the papers. 'It's too cliquey, they're too greedy'... Get over yourself, son. Benayoun's got more of a case for complaint and he's keeping schtum. So should you.

I really don't think they'll get fourth place this season and then where's the money going to come from to fund next year's revival?

Bill Kenwright'll tell you. From building a new stadium. Only Everton won't be doing that. And their form's worse than Liverpool's, just about. At the KC and you're three down after half-an-hour? And that was just the number of pints my Bluenose pal had sunk in that time.

At least Moyes is not using the injury list as a get-out-of-jail free card. No Arteta makes the Toffees very dull boys. But you can't see a manager of his capabilities holding out for a transfer budget while various Merseyside boroughs come round to Uncle Bill's for canapés and Chianti for another decade.

So here's where we're at. Everton fans don't want to move from Goodison, and Kenwright, even with the big Tesco connection (in fact because of the Tesco connection in the latest ruling) can't get his plans through anyway.

Liverpool, with Statler and Waldorf loading up the club with debt, and a manager who keeps handing over cows for what he hopes are magic beans, haven't got enough in the coffers to build their new ground either, even though the location is far less unsettling for the fans.

Now everyone in the city of Liverpool knows there's a solution. It's as easy to swallow as a porcupine coated in wasabi, but it is a solution. Ground-sharing.
Steven Gerrard and Phil Neville Will Liverpool and Everton ever share the same ground?
There's only a bit of a park between the two grounds anyway. Knock down Anfield, knock down Goodison, build a new stadium directly between the two and you'll have a spanking new ground and twice as much green space for the happy Scouse toddlers everywhere.

I know the rivalry's intense - hellfire, Babel's not even allowed to wear his precious blue boots - I mean crikey even Tony Blair got to wear a blue tie once in a while - but let's face it, the real enemy has never been within - they're a short trot down the M62, and what's worse there's two of 'em now.

It may seem hard to put aside age-old allegiances and traditions - although from what I can gather there's a whole host of Liverpool greats (Carragher, Fowler, McManaman, Owen) who grew up as Everton fans, so it's not like people can't put these things to one side when they have to, eh? And it's not as if opposing fans will see each other on match days any road.

And if you're worried about the state of the pitch then I suggest Everton replace Moyes with Allardyce and then every other week the ball won't get anywhere near the grass.

The home ends can be at opposite sides, directors' boxes too, and you know what? If this former European Capital of Culture is to mean something significant, how about years of enmity being put to one side in the names of a celebration of two great names in British football history coming together to share the same piece of green sward in the name of community cohesion, common sense and, let's face it, financial desperation.

They do it in Milan. It's not like them two teams have achieved nowt since. It makes sense in every regard except that the people who are most intimately involved are football supporters. Oops! That's logic out the window, then.

But the time has come for summat to give, before the Europa Cup truly becomes something worth winning.


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